The institute will use the three-year grant to expand its research capacity, with a focus on finding solutions to the most pressing challenges facing Houston and cities across the Sun Belt. Specifically, the funds will support the launch of an Urban Data Platform, a first-of-its-kind effort to compile, organize, and analyze a wide variety of data across many disciplines related to critical issues facing Houston and the Houston metro area; an Urban Development, Transportation and Placemaking Program, which will work to ensure that Houston's most rapidly urbanizing areas are transformed in ways that benefit the region and its residents; an Urban and Metropolitan Governance Program, which will focus on emerging governance issues in the Houston metro area and work to implement the most promising solutions; an Urban Disparity and Opportunity Program, which will analyze economic disparities in the region and work to develop evidence-based solutions to address them; and an Urban Outreach/Convening Program, which, in collaboration with partners, will focus on ensuring that the institute's research and policy ideas are implemented.
The grant also will bolster three existing programs at the institute — the Kinder Houston Area Survey, the Urban Health Program, and the Houston Education Research Consortium — and enable it to fill at least ten new full-time positions, including technical, research, program, and editorial staff.
"This extraordinary grant is a remarkable gift not only to Rice University, but to the people of Houston," said Rice University president David Leebron. "It will help enable Rice and the Kinder Institute to realize our ambitions not only to use data and sophisticated analysis to better understand the challenges that Houston and other cities are facing, but to formulate and help implement the needed solutions. Contributing to Houston in this way and others is central to our mission as a university, and we are extremely grateful for this generous support."